RivMon: Rivers in Bhutan: Enhancing capacities for monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem services

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Management of Conservation Areas MSc

In the joint project of monitoring rivers in Bhutan, an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Sherubtse College (Royal University of Bhutan) and Carinthia University of Applied Sciences work together on common knowledge transfer to enhance capacity building in Bhutan.

The core goal is to empower and enable institutions of Bhutan to plan and operate environmentally-friendly hydropower as a tool to eradicate poverty and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thus contributing to the operational goals as laid down in the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) Country Strategy and the APPEAR programme.

Due to its topography in combination with extraordinary water resources, the sustainable use of hydropower plays an essential role in the future development of the natural resources of Bhutan. Therefore, the preparatory project will have a special focus on standardising biodiversity monitoring systems based on new technologies and automated workflows. It is a crucial element for the development of Bhutan to make decisions about locations, capacities and specifications of individual hydropower plants based on sufficient technical foundations and verified evidence. Raising awareness for potential conflicts between loss of biodiversity and energy generation is an essential component of the project. Based on the experience and results of two former ADA projects on sustainable hydropower (E-Flow I and E-Flow II), the interdisciplinary team will review its objectives with regard to feasibility, needs and partnerships.

The project aims to establish a mutually beneficial long-term cooperation between higher education institutions in Austria and Bhutan to increase capacity development in the academic and institutional sector. The knowledge transfer on scientific methods and innovative approaches in the field of environmental DNA (eDNA), meta-barcoding, autonomous biodiversity monitoring systems, as well as ecosystem services are core elements for the future design of the academic partnership. The preparatory four-month funding will be the basis to elaborate a joint project proposal for an APPEAR Academic Partnership.

Financed by: OeAD - APPEAR preparatory funding

Lead partner: Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan